McQuay produces hits on and off field

ORLANDO, Fla. -- For the past three seasons, Seffner (Fla.) Armwood defensive back Leon McQuay III has been somewhat of a mystery. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound junior has tended to shy away from attention and often liked to do interviews with his helmet on.

The ESPN 150 prospect is still very quiet and careful with his words, although recently he has been more willing to take off his helmet and display his infectious smile. He is also extremely popular with his teammates and coaches.

"Leon is a very funny guy, although a lot of people don't know that," Armwood coach Sean Callahan said. "He jokes a lot and he keeps the locker room from getting too serious.

"He's become one of the leaders in the program. And he's a tremendous representative of the program and high school football in general."

McQuay, who is rated 34th nationally, is one of the team's best playmakers in the secondary. During the first quarter of this past season's Class 6A state championship game, McQuay intercepted an errant pass and returned it for a touchdown that helped Armwood earn a 40-31 victory over Miami Central.

It was the sort of thing that McQuay has been doing since he began playing for Armwood as a freshman and the reason why he can almost pick from his choice of colleges. Michigan, Florida, Vanderbilt, Duke, Northwestern, Notre Dame, USC and Alabama are among his many offers.

"It's really nice to have all these options," McQuay said. "They are good schools with good academics and that's very important to me."

McQuay has a 4.2 GPA, so academics will be a key in his recruitment. However, there will be another big factor in McQuay's final landing spot.

"I'd love to go to a place with a really good music program," McQuay said. "Music is one of my loves. I'll probably try to major in audio engineering if I can."

Music is something that McQuay spends much of his spare time pursuing. He said he likes to create different sounds and beats for production. He likes many of today's best producers in popular hip-hop music, such as Kanye West.

For McQuay, producing music comes ahead of watching football.

"I don't watch a lot of football, or television for that matter," McQuay said. "I watched the Super Bowl because of the Patriots, but if I'm not playing or studying I'm trying to work on new sounds."

Music producers tend to stay in the background and let the vocalists enjoy the fame. McQuay sees himself as the producer of Armwood's defense, often deferring credit to his teammates.

"That's just the way he is," Callahan said. "I don't know if he'll ever seek out the attention. He just wants to win and be successful. That's enough for him to be happy."

Although McQuay has opened up a little more and embraced his popularity with fans from several programs, he admits he may never be comfortable in front of the cameras and recorders.

"Nah, I don't really want the attention," McQuay said. "I like the recruiting process because I get to see a lot of campuses and meet the coaches, but all the reporters and stories isn't the part that I like."

McQuay has taken unofficial visits to Florida, Duke, Vanderbilt and Michigan. Although he says he doesn't have favorites, he's very close with Vanderbilt redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Grady, his former teammate at Armwood.

"Josh is a lot like a brother to me and I loved being his teammate when he was here," McQuay said. "But he doesn't push me to Vanderbilt or anything like that. He wants me to be happy."

And McQuay is happiest in the background, watching his friends, such as fellow ESPN 150 prospect Alvin Bailey, enjoy the success.

"L3 is like the perfect teammate and he's just a real fun guy," Bailey said of McQuay. "The people out there don't get to see it like we do."